11(/23/22) ALEXANDRIA, La. — It can be hard to believe that some children don’t know where their food comes from. But the LSU AgCenter is helping improve that knowledge around the state.
Students from 10 central Louisiana parishes got a lesson in how agriculture touches many areas of their lives during the AgCenter’s annual AgMagic Cenla event Nov. 16 and 17.
The excitement was unmistakable as the third- and fourth-grade students learned about the many products that come from agriculture.
“We really want to encourage careers in agriculture, and we really want them to know how important agriculture is,” said Jennifer Duhon, AgCenter family and consumer sciences program coordinator. “We want them to see the bigger picture of how agriculture is not just about livestock and farming, but how it affects every aspect of our lives.”
The event was divided into five blocks per day with 300 students per block. AgCenter personnel talked with them about family and consumer sciences, 4-H, livestock, plant science, nutrition and forestry.
“Kids typically don’t know what livestock means,” Duhon said. “They know it means animals, but they don’t know what’s involved in caring for that animal and how the animal is used.”
Presslee Longlois, a third-grade participant, said she had fun learning new things at AgMagic Cenla.
“I learned that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables,” Longlois said. “And I learned that purple vegetables are good for your immune system.”
But as usual, the stop that was most popular was the live animals. And there were plenty to pick from.
The students got up close and personal with a cow, sheep and pig — and then there was Tom, the ornery old gobbler who was everyone’s favorite.
Duhon said more than 1,400 students attended between the two days.
Sarah Keys, a fourth-grade teacher at Port Barre Elementary, said AgMagic is a great learning experience for her entire class — even for her students who are already 4-H members.
“Before we come here, we will do a little background about what agriculture is and what to expect here,” Keys said.
Keys was planning to have her class write about what they liked and what they learned at the event after they returned to school.
“When we get back, we’ll do a bit of debriefing where we will focus on something that matches our curriculum,” she said. “One of the stations here deals with cotton, and it is a subject we teach in social studies when we talk about the invention of the cotton gin.”
Tara Smith, director of the AgCenter Central Region, said the event was first held in 2018. The first two iterations were held in person.
“Then in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic, we couldn’t bring them face to face,” she said. “So we provided the teachers with the information for them to present.”
Smith said the goal of AgMagic Cenla is to help the students understand the importance of agriculture in their everyday lives.
Agriculture contributes about $12 billion to the Louisiana economy each year.
LSU AgCenter forestry agent Robbie Hutchins gives a talk to third- and fourth-grade students during AgMagic Cenla held Nov. 16 in Alexandria. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
Jennifer Duhon, LSU AgCenter family and consumer sciences program coordinator, gives marching orders to the 4-H junior leaders who were helpers during AgMagic Cenla held Nov. 16 in Alexandria. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
Sarah Keys, a fourth-grade teacher at Port Barre Elementary, said half of her students are 4-H members, but she feels that AgMagic Cenla held Nov. 16 in Alexandria was still a great learning experience for her entire class. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
Members of the 4-H junior leader group helped everything run smoothly for the younger students during the AgMagic Cenla held Nov. 16 in Alexandria. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter